The Western Media Refuses To Respect Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot are some of the most powerfully effective artist-dissidents of our era, so why does our news depict them as punkette Manic Pixie little girls lost? Michael Shean deconstructs:

The members of Pussy Riot have done something remarkable in modern Russia, both in their actions before their arrest and in their statements during trial and conviction: they have straight up called President Putin on this political floor show, and declared bluntly and loudly that the Emperor has no clothes.

What I did not expect was for the complete and utter marginalization of the three performers by the Western media. Perhaps it is naive of me to think that at least some major news outlets west of Moscow would try and handle the situation in a mature and factual manner, but from the very start these women have been pushed into the comfortable, sexualized box of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Their looks and fashion have been analyzed and discussed more than their politics; the youngest member is described as being a “sultry sex symbol” with “Angelina Jolie lips”. They are consistently called ‘girls’ and ‘punkettes’ despite the fact that they’re all in their twenties, two of them have children, and Pussy Riot is not a punk band but a kind of performance art outfit that just happens to have punk overtones.

Take this article from the New York Times, which focuses on the style of Pussy Riot. Or any of the other ones which talk about the members of the outfit in detail. Do you see the same treatment of male dissidents? Do you hear about Julian Assange’s looks? Or a dissection of the decor at Oswaldo Paya’s funeral, and the oh so lovely outfits the Cuban police wore as they arrested dissidents attending without charge? Chances are the answer is no, because that’s completely fucking second to the point.

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  • rus Archer

    bullshitpublicity stunt gone wrong

    • Countvelcro

      hi, vlad.

  • saint_al

    Here in Cincinnati, the story was read locally- all except the name of the band since it contained the word p-u-s-s-y. 

    • krbbagel

       Yeah I’m certainly no expert on what is “acceptable” in western media but something tells me they wouldn’t show much respect for a band named Anarchy Wang either… no matter how noble their cause?

      • Killingjoke36

         If Anarchy Wang could be promoted as a Chinese rebel, sure. Anarchy schlong on the other hand….

    • cretin

      You hit the nail right on the head; American media outlets are afraid to use the word “pussy” in a headline (or any other place) in fear of an FCC fine, parental protests, stockholder screaming, etc. so they just ignored the story completely. 

  • cakeypig

    Not sure about the ‘The western media’ bit…
    Maybe it’s true in the US, but here in the UK then coverage has (99%) been sensibly focussed on their politics IMHO.
    I note that the (single) example that the author uses in his article is from the NY Times.

  • Countvelcro

    when wikileaks first broke, people were making fun of Julian Assange’s looks.As he looks like a cheesy Bond villain.

  • DeepCough

    “The members of Pussy Riot have done something remarkable in modern Russia….”

    No, it’s not remarkable, because you can face arrest in the United States of all places for dancing in front of the Jefferson Memorial.

    http://disinfo.com/2011/05/arrested-for-dancing-at-the-jefferson-memorial-video/

    • BrianApocalypse

       And imprisoned for 2 years? No.

      • Calypso_1

        Add a resisting charge & it could get you the time.

      • DeepCough

        Pardon me for not being shocked by the Russian government doing something as illiberal as imprisoning people for protesting (which happens here in the U.S. as well).

        • BrianApocalypse

           I’m not shocked by it either, but I don’t think Pussy Riot would have been imprisoned for doing this in any western country.

          • DeepCough

            Even in “western countries” (for the record, Russia borders well into Europe), particularly in the U.S. where the right to protest is a part of the very first Amendment. I’m not hating on Pussy Riot, I’m not pointing out that their predicament isn’t that unique, certainly not an autocratic nation like Russia of all places.

          • rus Archer

            try it – bust into some church or mosque or synagogue or restaurant or bank or business – AKA PRIVATE PROPERTY – see what happens

  • Isol8

      “Pussy Riot” are not punk rockers. They are US State Department-backed instruments
    of corporate-financier hegemony, used as leverage against a Russian
    government standing in the way of Wall Street and London’s order of
    international corporatocracy. The punk culture, ironically represents
    the antithesis of such an international order – ironic indeed that so
    many have superficially defended “Pussy Riot” as targeted “punkers” when
    substantively they are “poseurs.

    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/08/russian-punkers-get-2-years-jail-for-us.html

    • rus Archer

      ah, yes, because “punk rock” means the same thing to everyone – homogenous and pure just like christianity – who care? punk rock = the ultimate oxymoron – the second you attempt to “be” punk or decide to define it, you have failed

      • Isol8

        Someone can’t see the forest through the trees….

  • Sandysanford70

    Well consider this:: although pussy riot’s hearts were in the right place to protest oppressive government tactics, the fact remains that in a country that repressed religion( the opiate of the people) for so long, doing the protest at a church may not have been the smartest move they could have made.Once you get a church and a government mad at you , you’re pretty well done, right or wrong.It’s a not very far stretch to imagine that a government could very simply say that not only did these girls show dissent but now they desecrated the church on top of it all,, woo hoo!,, I can see the Russian government thinking that the girls played right into the government’s hands which gives the government an opportunity to do the very kind of thing they were protesting in the first place. In most forms of assertiveness training people are taught that just because now that one has found ones voice, doesnt mean that everyone you go off on is going to buy it. I dont support oppressive government in any form , but,let this be clear,, but as my father used tell me over and over : ” be sure brain is fully engaged before clutching jaws into action”
     I hope that the prison term they got wont be too harsh considering the time they have already served and I’m glad that they didnt get the max sentence they could have.I also hope that NEXT TIME and I’m sure there will be a NEXT TIME, they think it through a little better.
     All in all those lady’s had alot of balls to try it in the first place!!!!

    • BrianApocalypse

       I don’t think they failed at all. It’s terrible that they have to go to prison, but the fact that this was the reaction of the Russian government is not a victory for the government at all… it’s the worst thing they could have done. They have ensured global publicity and engendered mass outrage, so much so that it’s easy to imagine the situation building into something much bigger than would have ever occurred had they let the band get on with their protests, and remain at the obscure level of fame they already had.
       
      I think the *government* are the ones who got played here by their own belligerence!

  • Ricky Jazzercise

    Moreover, why are 90% of the pictures that show up in the media of the cute one? I mean, I know why, I just find it hilarious. Thing is, they’d do the same with any band regardless of the situation (boys or girls).

  • Will

    They made the dumb mistake of doing something that landed themselves in the ‘race/religious hate group’ category! & that goes for pretty much any country. We wouldn’t be applauding a group that did the same thing in a mosque or a synagogue. Wether you like or hate religion you must respect places of worship. The minute they realised this they started backpedaling by saying they didn’t mean to cause offence so that the charge would be reduced to a lesser one (which it was!)

    There has been great media coverage on Pussy Riot out of all proportion to the event or their message (drones kill hundreds of civilians every year, Assange faces life in solitary, peaceful protests in the US are put down with dogs & rubber bullets, etc etc etc!) At a time when the media should be informing people of the injustices in the West (police brutality in its shift to the right, massive corporate fraud, etc) they focusing on minor injustices in non-aligned countries.

  • Apathesis

    Oh, I like her.  Mmmmmm.

  • coiled embrace

    Let it be repeated:

    “Pussy Riot” are not punk rockers. They are US State Department-backed instrumentsof corporate-financier hegemony, used as leverage against a Russian government standing in the way of Wall Street and London’s order of international corporatocracy. The punk culture, ironically represents the antithesis of such an international order – ironic indeed that so many have superficially defended “Pussy Riot” as targeted “punkers” whensubstantively they are “poseurs. 

    • Andrew

      The Russian government is standing against international corporatocracy?  I find that hard to believe.

      • ioksototeaterofsouls

        I would say yes. Putin and his faction are opposed to unrestricted looting of Russia by international corporate power and instead promote sustainable looting by national corporate power. Polls and elections show the Russian people think this is a vast improvement. You take what you can get these days.

  • Tchoutoye

    The Pussy Riot media event is yet another example of U.S. State dept. backed astroturfing, similar to Kony2012.

  • cakeypig

    Here is a properly written article that has far more to say about the West’s reaction to Pussy Riot:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/west-hypocrisy-pussy-riot

    “…for the British and US governments to get on high horses about Russian sentencing is hypocrisy. America and Britain damned the “disproportionate” Pussy Riot terms. In America’s case this was from a nation that jails drug offenders for 20, 30 or 40 years, holds terrorism “suspects” incommunicado indefinitely and imprisons for life even trivial “three strikes” offenders. Last week alone a US military court declared that reporting the Guantánamo Bay trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be censored. Any mention of his torture in prison was banned as “reasonably expected to damage national security”. This has no apparent connection to proportionate punishment or freedom of speech.”

  • gregg

    I agree the US is very hypocrite and judging the Russian government for human rights violation while we run Guantanamo Bay it’s a joke.  What also bother me is the lack of information about Pussy Riot in the West. After all, Pussy Riot had sex in front families and children in the Moscow Museum and also attacked immigrants and gays in one of their art displays.  How much can you tolerate?